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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 27 October 2020

Black and Bleu Ireland can only turn attention to Australia and 'achieving something' at this WRWC

Claire Molloy is leading the in taking accountability as her squad head for Belfast with only 5th place to play for.

AT TIMES LIKE this, players and the coaches who prepare them suddenly wish they had less time, rather than more, to turn the squad around and point at a new opponent.

You’re only as good as your last game, they say, so the chance to get back on the field after a win and impose any sort of positive spin is to be relished.

Nora Stapleton receives medical attention Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Talk of Australia was never far from the lips of head coach Tom Tierney or captain Claire Molloy after defeat to France in the World Cup Pool C decider last night, but after three matches in eight days in Dublin, the four full days ahead of a second round with the Wallaroos must feel interminable to everyone but injury doubts Jenny Murphy and Nora Stapleton.

Until then, it will be tough to shake that beaten-all-ends-up feeling that France – perhaps only surpassed by New Zealand – excel at instilling.

“I could come in here and give you loads of excuses,” said the head coach when asked to trod on a common soapbox for too many beaten teams, the referee.

“We’re heartbroken. We lost. We’re making no excuses. We weren’t good enough tonight.”

Tom Tierney Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

It was Tierney’s job to stand and face the necessary recriminations for missing out on the pool stages while the USA joined the Black Ferns, the professional English outfit and France in the quarter-finals.

Failure to build depth? Not enough time for units to be cohesive? Sevens stretching resources too thin? A no from Tierney on all fronts.  It’s just too soon after such a bruising encounter, and too long before the squad disbands from this tournament on 26 August, to properly take stock from Tierney’s point of view.

The short-range focus will soon change and expand for Tierney and women’s director Anthony Eddy, but for Molloy and her players there can only be room for contemplating the game just gone and the one ahead. After playing all 240 minutes of Ireland’s World Cup so far, the openside begins recriminations in the mirror.

Claire Molloy with Annaelle Deeshaye Molloy sneaks around the fringes. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We know ourselves; we were disappointed with our first-half performance. Myself personally, my discipline wasn’t there today and that cost our team.

“You have to look at that and take individual responsibility. We have to, as a group, come back and go: ‘we haven’t got what we wanted, okay, but we have to go forward’.

“We have to play on Tuesday and if we focus on what we haven’t done today, how are we going to pick ourselves up?”

Ireland players dejected after conceding a third try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Since stepping in at the 11th hour to replace Niamh Briggs as captain of this team Molloy has offered calm steady words for every minute of media duty. So the longer she spoke last night, it was notable how impassioned her words grew. She has led a team who have emptied the tank to chase down two victories and one that, logically, always looked out of reach. And there is immense pride in that.

“The girls have shown the grit and resilience in these games. In the last five minutes I asked them: ‘you’re not leaving the 22 without a score!’ We came out with a score. And if those girls can do that under that sort of defensive barrage, I think we can go on and do something special.”

Two matches to secure fifth place is not the scenario anyone dreams of when they imagine themselves playing in a World Cup, But defeating Australia again and (most likely) Canada to claim that rank would be special.

General view of Ireland attacking France Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

More importantly, it’s the best possible end available for Ireland on this journey. might as well throw everything at it. Lord knows they wait long enough between international Test opportunities when there’s no fatigue-filled World Cup.

“I’ve asked the girls to think about what we’re going to do next,” added Molloy in the minutes after leaving the changing rooms.

“How we’re going to play against this Australian side and how we’re going to win the competition we’re in. It’s not the one we started off and designed to be in, but we have to achieve something here.”

Improvements and another deep dig, but nowhere near enough to cope with ferocious French

Ireland miss out on World Cup semis as France overpower hosts in UCD

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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